Are you applying for a job in China?
Maybe you’re just looking to study abroad.
Or you’re applying for a Confucius Institute Scholarship.
These are just a few reasons why you may need to take the HSK exam.
If you’re wondering, “What the heck is the HSK?” then you’re not alone!
The HSK, short for 汉语水平考试 (Hànyǔ shuǐpíng kǎoshì) — Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi, is also known as the Chinese Proficiency Test. It’s an official exam used to test the practical language ability of a Chinese speaker.
The HSK is divided into six levels, HSK 1 being an elementary knowledge of basic Chinese and HSK 6 being the ability to speak, read and write in Chinese fluently.
If you’re considering taking the HSK, you might be at a loss for how to properly prep for it.
Worry not! We found some awesome HSK apps that will help you prepare to ace the Chinese Proficiency Test.
How Can Apps Help Me Prepare for the HSK?
- All of the apps on this list are specifically designed to help you study for different levels of the HSK, and they’re based on past test versions and vocabulary difficulty. Each HSK test level changes in content every year. If you took the HSK last year, the questions will be different this year. These apps gather past vocabulary words and similar words for you to study for the best chances of passing.
- If you’re strapped for time and want to study on the go, a portable smartphone app is ideal. Smartphones are incredible, aren’t they? With HSK prep apps, you can brush up on your vocabulary words while riding the metro or eating lunch on your work break.
- A lot of HSK prep services cost a pretty penny, but most of these apps are free or cost very little to use. It makes sense that tutors for any kind of test prep prefer to be paid. However, not all of us have the resources to pay for a tutor. These apps are the next best thing!
Ace Your Chinese Proficiency Test with the Help of These 7 HSK Apps
Chinese HSK from Around Pixels has a ton of game-changing features, including the following:
- Picture-based flashcards for matching characters with their English translations
- Memory-based digital board games
- A Chinese-English dictionary that includes English, 拼音 (pīn yīn) — Chinese romanization and 汉字 (hàn zì) — Chinese characters
- Hanzi, pinyin and tone-based minigames
- A progress tracker to help you assess how well you’re doing
- Handwriting and stroke order practice
This app is unique in that it’s visually pleasing and very user-friendly. It’s the perfect app to use if you want multiple ways to study for the HSK. Chinese HSK is free to use but does have periodic ads that can be a bit annoying.
Around Pixels has separate Chinese HSK apps for test levels 1-6, so you can easily choose an app that will help you ace whichever HSK test you plan on taking.
FluentU isn’t exclusively an HSK app, but it can definitely help you prepare for the listening section of the exam. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Watching authentic videos will help you understand native Chinese accents and real conversations, which should give you a lot of confidence during the listening portion of the exam. Each video comes with annotated subtitles, interactive flashcards and personalized quizzes that evolve as you learn. This makes it easy to memorize all the vocab and grammar FluentU introduces you to.
In fact, familiarizing yourself with authentic words and phrases could even help you stand out on the writing section of the HSK exam!
HSK Chinese 1 to 6
HSK Chinese 1 to 6 from gab.cue is wonderfully unique in its massive database of words that caps off at 1,600. This app quizzes you in each aspect of Chinese that you need to know for the HSK, including comprehension, writing, tones and pronunciation. You can create your own lists of vocabulary words to study, as well. Think of this as the ultimate flashcard app for studying for the HSK.
Within the app, you can select the appropriate level for whichever HSK test you plan on taking. HSK Chinese is free with minimal ads, which means fewer interruptions while you study!
HSK Online — HSK Study and Exams
This clean, attractive, knowledge-packed app is perfect for HSK studiers who want a realistic simulation of what the test will actually be like. It also covers each level of the HSK.
HSK Online provides the following:
- Mock online testing
- Simulation exercises
- Model exams
- Study reports
- An authoritative report with error explanations after you complete mock tests to improve future exam strategies
- Access to professional tutors and the option for one-on-one tutoring
- A study plan creator
This app is free to download, but a lot of the bells and whistles (most notably the tutor access) does cost a fee. However, you may find that it’s less expensive to use this app than to hire a tutor.
HSK Magic Chinese
Do you need help understanding spoken Chinese? This app from Intisol covers all the bases of HSK levels 1-4, but it focuses on the comprehension and listening parts the most.
Here’s some of what HSK Magic Chinese offers:
- Authentic audio clips from native speakers
- Offline capabilities
- A well-programmed flashcard algorithm
- Explanations of different Chinese grammar rules
- Tone focus
This app is free to use with absolutely no ads, which is pretty sweet! There are some additional in-app purchases you can make for special features, but the free version is absolutely valuable for studying for the HSK.
Chinese Character Hero
Some of us just learn things better if it’s in a game format. If this sounds like you, Chinese Character Hero is the HSK study app for you!
This app focuses on teaching you hanzi and their meanings quickly through a recall and recognition process. This process helps learners retain Chinese characters in your mind long-term.
How it works:
- Select a group of words at your appropriate level
- Select the correct hanzi from a list of nine characters
You can also click the “hint” button for a little extra help. This app isn’t only great for prepping you for the HSK, it’s also kind of addictive!
While this app from Carlos Mucuho could certainly use a bit of an interface makeover, it’s one of the most straightforward apps on this list for HSK test practice. Simple, no extra features getting in the way, just pure and helpful mock tests.
You’ll select a mock test at your appropriate level from either Listening, Reading or Writing. Then the app times you while you answer questions. The look and feel of this mock test is almost identical to the actual HSK. You see your score afterward but won’t get an explanation of your incorrect answers, quite like the actual HSK.
Like the apps from Around Pixels, you’ll need to download separate apps for your appropriate level. Currently, only HSK 4 and 5 are available. HSK Simulator is free to use with intermittent ads.
Ready to kick some butt on that HSK?
No matter which level you’re trying to pass, there’s no feeling quite like getting that stamp of approval. Your hard work will pay off and you’ll have the certificate to prove it!
Em Casalena is a published author, freelance writer and music columnist. They write about a lot of stuff, from music to films to language.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Chinese with real-world videos.